River Monsters Attack! Sensational ad campaign catches me off guard.
April 26, 2010
If you’re reading this chances are, like me, you work in the advertising industry. Many of you are copywriters and art directors. Certainly some of you are planners and account executives. Maybe producers, artist reps, students, too. As such, you probably fancy yourself pretty savvy about our game, and how it works. I know I do. It stands to reason, then, that the magic of advertising cannot work on us because we are its magicians. As creators of advertising, we are necessarily immune to its myriad tricks. We are the wizards behind the curtain.
So, it surprises and delights me to admit I fell for a brilliant piece of copy today, in of all things, a newspaper! One of our local papers, The Red Eye, had this sensational headline on its cover: MAN-EATING FISH FOUND IN RIVER! Rampaging beneath these brazen words was a giant fresh water piranha, replete with a mouthful of sharp pointy teeth, two of them the size of your index finger. A truly gruesome creature. Then the subhead: DEADLY UNDERWATER ATTACKS SHOCK LOCALS…WHO”S NEXT?
Scary as this is, one needs to put the story into greater context to fully appreciate its magnitude.
Right now Chicago is gripped by the specter of Asian carp invading Lake Michigan. Disgusting and large, the Asian carp are churning through Illinois’ rivers wreaking havoc. They also possess a terrifying habit of jumping in front of moving boats, sometimes hitting the people inside! (Riveting accounts of this extraordinary and terrifying behavior can be found on You Tube.) Yet, even worse is the impact the carp are having below the surface, churning its bottom and destroying the habitat of countless native species. Folks, these monstrous creatures are less than 50 miles from our beloved Great Lake. If they make it in…
So, not only was Red Eye’s cover scary as hell it was completely believable. I grabbed the newspaper off someone’s desk flipping madly through its inky pages looking for the story. When I got to the back cover I saw the payoff: River Monsters, Sunday 10PM EST/9PM CST on Animal Planet. Similar to A&E’s very popular, Deadliest Catch this new show is about an intrepid fisherman who goes after some of fresh water’s creepiest denizens, like the toothy monster featured on Red Eye’s cover.
In the best sense of the word I was duped, lured in if you will. Wrapping a tabloid with this sensational copy was pure genius. So, kudos to Animal Planet and its agency (in house?) for conceiving this wickedly relevant campaign. I fell for it hook, line and sinker!